When you discover that you have a talent or natural ability to do something you just do it. At least that’s the case with Marie Wagner, Carlton Senior Living San Leandro resident, who has been painting since her youth. “This is just my thing,” says Marie who prefers painting beautiful watercolor landscapes and scenes from life.
After completing high school, Marie had considered studying art but her mother had another plan in mind. “My mother didn’t exactly encourage me,” explains Marie. “She wanted me to do something more practical.” With this in mind, Marie enrolled at Stanford University in pursuit of a teaching degree. During this time, World War II was winding down and U.S. soldiers were returning home from their posts. One such soldier was Herman Wagner whose family owned and operated a tannery on the Peninsula for many years. Marie and Herman met during these college years and eventually married choosing Burlingame as their home.
Prior to starting a family, Marie taught high school for several years before shifting her focus to family. She and Herman welcomed four children to the Wagner family and Marie made time to pursue her artistic passion of painting once again. As the children grew up, Marie found more free time to paint and enjoyed being a member of the Peninsula Outdoor Painters group (POPs) for many years. Through the group, she has formed many long-lasting friendships with like-minded artists who’ve also found a fascination in painting scenes from the great outdoors.
Marie draws inspiration from her surroundings whether it be the sandy shores of Half Moon Bay, the charming exterior of the Deerfield Inn in New England, a smiling Buddha in the courtyard of Carlton Senior Living San Leandro or the water tower that’s visible from her apartment window. Her unique painting style and technique is visible in each watercolor piece as she allows the perfect amount of white space to show through between the carefully selected colors.
Although watercolor is Marie’s primary medium, her range extends to other types of paint and her work is not limited to the page. One of her largest undertakings was painting murals of the twenty-one California Missions throughout the bare stairway walls at Mercy Center in Burlingame and for this project she found that house paint was most appropriate. The murals took months to complete and were a labor of love which resulted in vibrant art pieces which tell a story about an important time in California’s history.
With “ninety-something” years to her credit, Marie attributes her good health to exercise and remaining socially active. As she settles into her apartment at Carlton Senior Living San Leandro and puts her brush to paper, associates and residents alike are excited to see what she’ll paint next. Armed with a simple canvas bag filled with a few sketching and painting supplies, Marie greets each day as an opportunity to create something beautiful because, as she says, it’s just her thing.
Read more about Marie Wagner’s Mission to Create Murals at Mercy Center, Burlingame.
Written by Denee Coleman
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